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11 Iraqi paramilitary fighters killed in IS ambush

SAMARRA, Iraq — At least 11 fighters from Iraq’s state-sponsored Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force were killed today in an ambush by the Islamic State jihadist group north of the capital, Hashed security sources said.

The jihadists used light weapons and the cover of darkness to target the Hashed east of Tikrit, the capital of Iraq’s Salahaddin province, two days after a twin suicide attack claimed by the group killed 32 people in Baghdad.

“IS launched an attack on the Hashed’s Brigade 22,” says one of the unit’s officers Abu Ali al-Maliki.

Maliki tells AFP the brigade commander was among those killed before reinforcements from the federal police came to the unit’s aid.

Hashed security sources says the total toll was 11 dead and 10 wounded.

There is no immediate claim of responsibility, but security sources interviewed by AFP blame IS.

Iraq declared the group territorially defeated in late 2017, but has continued to battle extremist sleeper cells, mostly in the country’s mountainous and desert areas.

Local troops have been aided by a US-led coalition, which first intervened to help fight IS in 2014 and continues to provide training, surveillance and air strikes in support of anti-jihadist operations.

The coalition has significantly drawn down its troop numbers over the past year, with the US shrinking its force from 5,200 to 2,500.

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